Achieving the Impossible - Finishing the Back Catalogue Part III | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Achieving the Impossible – Finishing the Back Catalogue Part III

Gaming Editor Nick Burton finishes his extensive retrospective with part III. The finale includes all the games he played on his Xbox One and PC.

Welcome back gamers. This week I'll be finishing my extensive retrospective series so thank you for reading. This week we'll be taking a look at Xbox One and PC games, with as much controversy and nostalgia-destroying opinions as usual.

The Retrospective Part III – Xbox One & PC

Sunset Overdrive (Xbox One)

Talk about a game that flies under people’s radar, Sunset Overdrive is the perfect blend between the chaotic nature of Saints Row, the smart witty humour of Borderlands, and the weapon progression of Ratchet and Clank. An absolute blast to play, it’s bright colourful nature will have you playing in Sunset City for hours on end. Well-worth playing and completing – I’m praying for a sequel.

Watch Dogs (Xbox One) 

Now for a less praise-worthy retrospective.  Watch Dogs has to be the most average game I have ever played. And I don’t mean that it is therefore an average game. I mean that in an extremely negative manner. The game just never did anything for me even though I played it extensively. I mean, we’re talking tens and tens of hours. Finished the main game 100% AND started the DLC before I realised just how much of a good time I wasn’t having playing this game. It’s an uninspired game. The city is pretty generic (although it looks good), the missions are repetitive, and the combat and stealth mechanics are just okay. I don’t regret playing the game for however long I did, because I learnt that I will never play a game which I don’t enjoy that much ever again. The lesson of when to not keep playing a game – when it is this damn average.  What a bore.

Final Fantasy: Type-0 (Xbox One)

I decided to play (and complete a fair amount) of this game in preparation for playing Final Fantasy XV. A game which I actually decided not to play because of better RPGs like The Witcher 3 and Fallout 4. Anyway, back to Type-0. Because this game is ported from the PSP, I did have some reservations about this title: how it would look, how it would play etc. I was pleasantly surprised by the deep and dark story of this game, and although the gameplay isn’t that great, it does the job. It isn’t however a great step forward for RPGs containing real-time action as the core gameplay, and it isn’t the best RPG in its genre by any means, but I enjoyed my time with Type-0. Some of it is memorable, while a lot of it is forgettable, but if picked up on the cheap, it can easily take up a lot of your time if you allow it.

Borderlands 2 (Xbox One)

Never playing the sequel to Borderlands was something I wanted to rectify ASAP. Hearing rumors about the brilliance of the antagonist Handsome Jack, and already knowing how addictive the gameplay loop of Borderlands can be, I dived controller first right into The Handsome Collection (a bundle containing Borderlands 2, and Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel), and boy am I glad I did. Borderlands 2 has more content, more guns, better gameplay and characters, more varied locations, more classes, and put simply, is a bigger better Borderlands. But I mean, WAY better. This game is so addictive and fun, it really is a must-play for those looking for a good co-op experience, or even solo experience. I did play all of Borderlands 1 and 2 by myself after all.

Tomb Raider Definitive Edition (Xbox One)

I never really loved the original Tomb Raider titles, but this reboot of the Lara Croft series introduced the concept of survival into the franchise. All of this mixed with exciting action pieces, great acting, extremely violent deaths, and great 3rd person cover-shooting mechanics, you have yourself an extremely successful formula. A good reboot for a great franchise, but the puzzle elements can be annoying alongside the lack of real tombs to explore – which are the trademark of the franchise.

The Walking Dead: Michonne (Xbox One)

Knowing that the first two seasons of Telltale’s The Walking Dead made the studio the gigantic name that they are today, it was very much a letdown playing through this spin-off series. It wasn’t perhaps the performances or the polish that didn’t make this game as memorable as it should’ve been (based on its legacy), but the disappointingly short length with the forgettable story makes this spin-off the first entry in the story-based series that you should perhaps move on from, and it isn’t the zombies that should scare you.

The Bridge (Xbox One)

Before I bought The Bridge, I didn’t quite understand how much I hate puzzle games. I can now tell you with certainty: I hate puzzle games. They aren’t fun, I don’t enjoy trying to figure them out (mainly because I’m dumb) and they aren’t exciting, entertaining, or fulfilling compared to the hours you need to invest in order to complete them. This will be the last puzzle game I ever buy, and although the style is cool and the puzzles will provide a challenge for those looking for challenge, I did not like playing this game at all. Give me mechanics and situations to overcome – not mindboggling puzzles which will make me tear my hair out.

INSIDE (Xbox One)

INSIDE is a game which when you incorporate gameplay, animations, music, atmosphere, story, and the combination of all these factors, you realise that it is a masterpiece. It plays beautifully responsive, and the small details that can be observed during your action animations are stunning. The commentary on our society can be interpreted in so many different ways, and that’s the other beautiful side that can be found within this game. This game’s journey is what you make of it. Some people will think it’s ridiculous, and some people will think its genius. Whatever you think of the story, it’s an entrancing game that arrests you from doing anything else until you’ve finished it.

Rocket League (Xbox One)

I absolutely love it when every single second of playing a game is fun. It reminds me of why I play games in the first place. Because they’re just so damn fun. A game which is easy to play a couple of matches with and walk away, a game which is super fun to play with friends and family, and a game which you will get involved with like no other: Rocket League. In a similar vain to Titanfall, this game became an instant classic in my eyes. It differentiated itself from other multiplayer games (of which I do not play many now, since they aren’t that fun and not that different from one another), is a real barrel of laughs and will provide tens if not hundreds of hours of fantastic gameplay. There’s no why or how, it just captures your inner competitor and runs away with it like a car playing football.

Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate (Xbox One)

I took a fairly long break from my favourite franchise, but returning to Ubisoft’s acclaimed Assassin’s Creed series, and venturing to the capital London within this title, made it an even more exciting adventure then I perhaps anticipated. Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate recreates the feel of industrial London to a par. You can smell the coal from the factory furnaces, and breathe the freshness of the gardens surrounding Buckingham Palace. The game looks absolutely incredible. It’s a wonder in-itself to even look at these next-gen Assassin’s Creed games. They really are some of the best-looking games ever made. The Frye Twins are charismatic with some level of depth; refreshing coming off the un-interesting Arno (from Assassin’s Creed: Unity). You can choose to play as either Jacob of Evie Frye, and I chose Evie for most of the game. Why? Because it was refreshing to play as a woman, and her actions were much more elegant than Jacobs.

The story is good, with some cool Templars to kill along the way. There is an absolute abundance of fight clubs, treasure chests, animus fragments and so on to collect and complete, never making you feel like you haven’t got your money’s worth. A stand-out for me was the Darwin missions – based around demystifying tales of haunted houses and the like, some of these missions actually gave me a sense of fear. Impressive for a 3rd person action game. I really enjoyed my time with Syndicate, and although by the end I had completed it (and its awesome Jack the Ripper DLC) and was happy to stop playing it, I would definitely say it is in my top 5 favourite Assassin’s Creed games.

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (Xbox One)

It’s hard not to appreciate some aspects of this game. Its locations are quite colourful, and some of the later ones are extremely interesting to explore. The end did surprise me, but it wasn’t the biggest twist in the world. It is fairly basic gameplay, with some worthy collectibles and achievements to gather along the way. I would say this is definitely worth an evening of your time if you pick it up on the cheap – no more than £4 I’d say. But if this isn’t your type of game, then don’t feel like you’ve missed out on anything deeply significant. A good game nonetheless.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox One)

It’s a real shame that I only found out about the twist in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic around a year and a half ago, because now I wonder whether I would be able to have guessed it before you learn it within the game. I played KOTOR II extensively when I was younger, so being able to finally play the original was divulging in a great curiosity. The game doesn’t hold up against the likes of The Witcher 3 obviously, but for a game which is around 15-years-old, it holds up bloody well. Still being invested in the many characters, worlds, and the main plotline, demonstrates how an RPG can stand the test of time. Finding Darth Malak actually threatening makes the final showdown ever more powerful as a player. If you don’t know the twist, then you really need to play this game right now. If you enjoy it, pick up the sequel while you’re at it. It’s one of the finest creations within the Star Wars universe. P.S. the soundtrack is incredible. But I mean, it would be when it’s composed by one of the best – Jeremy Soule.

Ori and the Blind Forest (Xbox One)

I wanted to love Ori and the Blind Forest so bad, but sadly, it was a different game to what I expected. This game is a challenging Metroid-Vania, whereas I thought it be more in the spirit of a game like Child of Light. More story-based, with world exploration as an emphasis over combat and challenge. I was wrong. Ori is a difficult game, and one which unfortunately did not resonate with me the way I had hoped. You should definitely try it though. It might be for you.

Gears of War Ultimate Edition (Xbox One)

I love Gears: I love the fact that the Gears are the size of 5 men put into one set of amour, I love the generic but awesome enemy the locusts, I love Marcus and Dom and Baird and Cole, I love the predictable story, I love Horde mode; I love Gears. Going back and playing the very first Gears of War in Gears of War Ultimate Edition was something I wanted to do for a long time, since it was the one I played the least back in the prime years of being a chubby teenage gamer. It’s still a really great game, and blends well if you’re planning to play Gears of War 4 anytime soon. Both have much in common with one another.

Gears of War 4 (Xbox One)

As you may have noticed, I am a big Gears of War fan. Finally playing through Gears of War 4 was both fearful, and exciting. I was scared that the new developers in charge of the Gears of War franchise, The Coalition, wouldn’t be able to recreate the awesome over-the-top action and bravado which made me adore the original trilogy so much. Lo and behold, they not only successfully created three new interesting characters, they created cool new enemies (although the robots are a bit neutral), sick action-pieces you should all play through, and a twist which makes the story perhaps more interesting than it’s ever been. It delivers on the promise of an interesting story which the originals did not live up to. Also, Horde mode is so good. My favourite co-op mode by far.

Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel (Xbox One)

‘I have another Borderlands game to complete with friends. Oh, what a shame.’ Said nobody. A much shorter venture, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel has you explore Pandora’s moon, Handsome Jack’s backstory and rise to power, as well as of course, thousands of guns, Australian actors laugh-out-loud dialogue, great art direction and graphic style, and a barrel of fun and addiction. So not much.

DOOM (Xbox One)

YESSSSSSSSS. KILLING DEMONS WITH A SUPER SHOTGUN AT A FAST PACE WHILST RUNNING AROUND THE REALMS OF HELL IS SICK. READING THIS IS HOW IT FEELS TO PLAY THE DOOM REBOOT. IT’S F****** AWESOMEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

GTA V (Xbox One)

Grand Theft Auto V can not only hold, as far as I’m concerned, the award for best-written game ever made, but it can also hold the award for holding the highest level of longevity interest for any game ever. It still features on top 10 best-sellers lists every month, and yes, some of that is to do with its re-release on the current gen, but it still is an enormously impressive feat. Sometimes in life, all of the signs and factors come together, and everything hits at the right time for it to be a sensation. Who would have thought this was going to be the most successful entry in the popular franchise? I didn’t. But I can tell you that it doesn’t receive these accolades accidentally.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor (Xbox One)

This game looked promising when the previews first came in. It looked like it was going to be a good game based in the world of the Lord of the Rings. I was surprised then when it turned out to be one of, if not the best video game adaptation set within the Tolkien universe. Among some of the best of the LotR video games, such as The Third Age and The Return of the King, this game introduces a most unique enemy mechanic. ‘The Nemesis System’. Creating unique enemies which remember encounters with you as well as produce unique dialogue, not to mention the orc army structure which you can manipulate to your content, this game has so much fun to exploit you’ll be playing for hours on end. The gameplay is fantastic, with the combat coming straight from the Arkham series. The performances are better than they deserve to be, and a bad last boss fight still makes this game my GOTY for 2014. I haven’t had the chance to play the sequel yet, but as you can imagine, I am extremely excited to do so.

Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One)

Majestic, gorgeous, frightening, and exhilarating. The sequel to the reboot Tomb Raider is a game which achieves at being all of these things and more. I adored every second I played of Rise of the Tomb Raider. It’s stealth and action mechanics, as well as its set pieces, feel wonderful. The views are extraordinary, and exploring tombs with more identity and depth than the last game fulfils the series’ name better than the previous title. A story which stands above the average mantra the series has seen before on occasion, as well as a strong message that’s sent throughout the journey, you should really treat yourself to playing Rise of the Tomb Raider. It’s a fantastic game.

Fallout 4 (Xbox One)

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding Fallout 4. People for the most part seem extremely divided when it comes to deciding whether Fallout 4 is a worthy successor to the incredible Fallout 3, or whether it falls flat against RPG giants like The Witcher 3. As a huge fan of Fallout 3, I believe in my bones that Fallout 4 is an excellent game. The gameplay is much more fluid and responsive than any previous Bethesda game, and the story is the best story Bethesda have told. It has twists and turns with characters you’ll fall in love with, and characters which you’ll in contrast despise. There’s a lot to sink your teeth into of course, and for a good couple of weeks, you’ll be utterly addicted to its gameplay loop. I personally enjoyed the hideout creation kit, as I enjoyed personalizing my own space within the Fallout 4 game world, and being able to do this across tens of sites for those who enjoy it, is a great opportunity. You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to, so I don’t see it as a negative aspect of the game.

 

Similarly, the weapon customization is good and making your arsenal as lethal as possible is a fun aspiration. Exploring various locations across the Commonwealth was some of the best gaming I did in a long time. Is it better than The Witcher 3? I don’t think so. Is it more impactful and relevant than Fallout 3 was at the time of its release? No. Is it an excellent RPG? Absolutely. You would be doing yourself a great disservice if you didn’t try to enjoy what Fallout 4 has to offer. The DLCs are pretty good as well – Far Harbour being the better of the two, since while Nuka-Worlds locations are filled to the brim with joy, it’s a kill-fest that lingers on for far too many hours. The main issue with Fallout 4 I think is that its quests aren’t as deep as the side quests in games like The Witcher 3, and a lot of the enemies are very familiar to those found in Fallout 3. Creating a more different apocalyptic area with more differentiation I think is the way forward for the Fallout franchise.

Halo Wars 2 (Xbox One)

I love Halo Wars. It’s the best real-time strategy game on the console, and I don’t care whether you disagree. So what’s Halo Wars 2 like? It’s really good. The gameplay is better than the first, and the blitz and firefight modes are refreshing break from the campaign. Especially after playing through the short and uninteresting story. Don’t get me wrong, it has it places, but the promise that the first mission shows, the game never really seems to be able to fulfill.

The game seems to be holding back – perhaps for the next entry in the series which is likely in development (even though it is a niche market to say the least for this franchise, I still appreciate them making these games because of the risks involved). Why do I know that? Because of the cliffhanger at the end of Halo Wars 2. I’m afraid that 343 Industries are focusing too much on the future, and not enough on the present. For people to be excited about the next Halo games, the current ones have to be excellent.

I still enjoyed this game thoroughly, since at its core its more Halo Wars. I completed the campaign on Legendary and gathered all the collectibles, but on the other hand, I didn’t purchase a single piece of DLC because the starting squads in Blitz for the DLC heroes are over-powered. That’s pay-to-win right there. I don’t play my games against pay-to-win models. All that being said, would I play Halo Wars 3 if it came to be? You bet your spartan I would.

Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Xbox One)

Having one film as an entire Lego Star Wars game with DLC does seem a bit much. Thankfully, sceptics including myself were proven wrong. Having learned from the previous Lego titles: a big hub world with side quests galore, every character imaginable from Ep. 7, every scene recreated in joyful Lego locations, cool new vehicles and a ton of collectibles all make this Lego game a return to form for the franchise. Awesome new shooting battles and great dog-fighting mechanics makes this game the only Lego game you need to play after the first two Lego Star Wars.

Half-Life 2 (PC)

I will admit now that I only played ¾ of Half-Life 2, and none of the add-ons/episodes. I can absolutely see why people regard this game as a masterpiece. The way the story is told is fascinating, the world is wonderful to explore, and the gameplay feels near-perfect. However, as somebody who actively dislikes puzzles, introducing puzzles in the middle of a level, which effectively ruining the flow of the level, is an awful thing to play through. I understand that at the time it was demonstrating the ‘great new game engine’ Valve had, but I really don’t care. It literally stops any good pacing the game tries to construct, and instead, makes a FPS campaign frustrating to the point where I didn’t care about the story or characters enough that I wanted to finish it. Hate me if you want, but you know deep down that it is all true.

Gone Home (PC)

What a surprise that I was genuinely emotionally affected by this game. A lot of people have been talking about the importance of Gone Home for quite some time now, so it was just as much a shock to me for me to feel this games impact almost 4 years after its original release. The best story I’ve heard told in a what is perhaps best known as a ‘walking simulator’. The voice-acting is remarkable, and the clues you find along the way have sub-plots which have sub-plots. Depth, emotion, and an important story is told through Gone Home. You really need to play this game.

Final Thoughts

Catching up on my back-catalogue is one of the best things I’ve done since I’ve started playing video games. Not only did I find some of my favourite games to date, but I played games which gave me great degrees of nostalgia, games which flawed me with their inability to age poorly, and games which I consider not only to be some of my all-time favourite games, but games which I consider masterpieces. I highly recommend that you try and catch-up on your back catalogue, and that you be extremely strict with the games you think you need to play. Appreciate and respect your time and play games which you think you’ll have the best time with.

I’m currently playing through the last of my back catalogue which includes: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Wolfenstein: The New Order, Stardew Valley, Bioshock Infinite and Life is Strange: Before the Storm.

A 3rd year Philosophy student at the University of Birmingham. Interested in giving honest opinions with others. Thinking and being passionate are my favourite hobbies, other than listening to Metallica. (@Nic_the_thinker)



Published

11th February 2018 at 9:00 am



Images from

IGDB and Disgusting Men



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